Sister Sharon Eubank who is the first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency gave a talk last week during the women’s session of General Conference and it was powerful to me. some things she said clarified some things I had been wondering about for a long time. I always love her talks but this one…
Well, anyway, in church over the past year – possible longer – we have been talking about unity and how we can increase unity in our ward (congregation). It’s something that I know is important because of scriptures such as
D&C 38:27 which says If ye are not one, ye are not mine.
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
As usual, even though I know it is something the Jesus Christ would have us do I was looking for the why of it all. Unifying the people is such a difficult task. And something that I don’t want to do since I haven’t even been sure how to go about starting. And I know that I need to be living up to the covenants I have made with God. I know that I need to be serving others. So if I am doing those things then why does it even matter if we are all united?
Sister Eubanks began speaking and I was completely drawn in. And then she quoted Joseph Smith and the light went on.
On June 9, the Prophet “said he was going to preach mercy[.] Supposing that Jesus Christ and [the] angels should object to us on frivolous things, what would become of us? We must be merciful and overlook small things.” President Smith continued, “It grieves me that there is no fuller fellowship—if one member suffer all feel it—by union of feeling we obtain pow’r with God.”1
By Union of Feeling We Obtain Power With God.
What that says to me is that if we are united together, caring for each other, showing love and charity to each other we are partnering with God. Notice the word with in that quote. God isn’t just giving us his power on loan we are actually working with him. We aren’t his servants or employees, we are his collaborators. We have the power to move His work forward if we, as a group, work together united.
That thought actually made my heart beat a little faster. It made me feel excited. I was encouraged to keep moving forward and resolved to begin again.
It’s funny because I heard her say those words and I was immediately struck and then she went on to say that she was struck by those words. Then I did a little happy shoulder move because I felt as if I was on the right track if she had had similar thoughts.
She went on with three suggestions about how we might gain that unity of feeling. You should definitely go and read her words. But here are three things that stuck out to me that I will try to live more fully and put into action in my own life.
It’s so hard to show mercy I think. We are all different. We all have different experiences and backgrounds. some of us grew up in what seemed to be the perfect family and some of us almost raised ourselves it seems. There may have been abuse, poverty, illness, etc. There may still be those things. The problem is, when I see you at church or at the store or on the street I have no idea of what has happened to shape your views or cause you to make certain decisions that may be different that what I would do. In addition, if I don’t have those experiences it is difficult for me to understand. Because of these things another quote from Sister Eubanks stood out to me.
Let’s not judge each other or let our words bite. Let’s keep each other’s names safe and give the gift of mercy.
She told a story about rowers who went to the Olympics and won against the odds. She talked about how each rower has a different thing about them that they may need to change a little to make everyone in the boat move in perfect harmony. A taller person may need to shorten his strokes while a shorter person may need to reach a bit further. When they all get in sync they can’t be stopped.
Differences can be turned to advantage instead of disadvantage. Only then will it feel as if the boat is moving on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Good “swing” feels like poetry.
Clear Away the Bad
If we want the good to grow then we need to clear away the bad. Beautiful vegetables can’t grow well in a garden choked with weeds. I have a ton of things that I need to clear away so that there is room for good stuff. Right off the top of my head – I have a tendency to turn on the tv rather than study the scriptures or pray and meditate. I love to scroll through Instagram and look at the beautiful pictures and then I look at the clock and a whole hour is gone. An hour where I could have visited someone who need s friend or called a few sisters on the phone to check in. (The list is much longer but I’ll stop there.)
But sister Eubank says:
We are never alone in our efforts to create unity. Jacob 5 continues, “The servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them.”
This unity does take work but if we make the time and get in there the Lord will work with us. We will be inspired about who to help and how. He will also help us find time to rest and recuperate so we are ready to work again.
Can we do it?
We may not yet be where we want to be, and we are not now where we will be. I believe the change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another. Why? Because we are building Zion—a people “of one heart and one mind.”
Again, she said these words and my heart fluttered a little. I know that trying to change people’s minds through Facebook posts or Twitter doesn’t work. The only way to make things better is the ways that Jesus Christ works – one by one. The most amazing thing is that we have been given a way to improve things one by one through ministering to each other. If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints then I hope that you have a short list of people who have been placed in your care. These are the people you should be praying for each day by name and checking in with regularly by phone, text message, in person visits (safely of course during this time of covid) and other ways. The only way to get to know someone and possibly be a blessing to them is to get to know them and by doing that you will begin to understand their needs. Usually most people just need a friend. They need someone they can call, or lean on, or just spend time with to avoid the terrible loneliness that sometimes comes.
Once in a while there will be larger needs but really, those are few and far between.
Our covenantal assignment is to minister, to lift up the hands that hang down, to put struggling people on our backs or in our arms and carry them. It isn’t complicated to know what to do, but it often goes against our selfish interests, and we have to try. The women of this Church have unlimited potential to change society. I have full spiritual confidence that, as we seek union of feeling, we will call down the power of God to make our efforts whole.
John 17:21 “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”